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Buzzed' is the new merry', says pub-crawl author

Published:  23 July, 2008

Police and drinks watchdogs need to take a new approach to their responsible-drinking campaigns, according to an author who has completed a 45,000-mile pub crawl to research his latest book.

Pete Brown of marketing consultancy Storm Lantern and author of upcoming novel Three Sheets to the Wind, was speaking at last week's Marketing Alcoholic Drinks 2005 in central London. He said that tabloid newspaper headlines on binge drinking were way off the mark and that doing so was completely different to anti-social behaviour per se.

He said that binge drinking advice lacks credibility' and said that, while cheap promotions in bars did not help, a more pressing issue should be finding out why people drink to excess in the first place. Brown also claimed that the UK is one

of the few countries that has no word for the middle state' between sobriety and drunkenness, unlike many other European countries (France: l'ivresse; Spain: la chispa; Denmark: hygge; and Germany: Gemtlichkeit). He suggested

that the UK should adopt the term buzzed' to indicate someone who had had a couple of drinks but was far from going over the edge.

Amy Wright, director of research agency CGA-Centro, announced the results of a survey of the drinking habits of 2,300 Galaxy Radio listeners - 62% of whom were aged 18-24. The survey found that:

96% of respondents drink alcohol;

most drink alcohol two to three times a week; and

only 9% drink four to five times a week.

On a typical night out:

75% will drink beforehand;

78% will drink five or more drinks in one night; and

8% will have 15+ drinks.

In terms of attitudes to alcohol:

65% sometimes or usually drink to get drunk;

82% sometimes or usually mix their drinks;

just over half alternate between alcoholic and soft drinks.

And on drinking choice:

93% cited habit as a key influence on their decision;

85% said price promotions were a key influence in the

on-trade (65% for off-trade); and

60% respond to advertising when deciding.

Jean Coussins, chief executive of drinks watchdog The Portman Group, said she suspected that some drinks companies were a little resentful' when complying with the various laws governing drinks advertising. It's important not to comply with these rules negatively,' she said, and it's important to see the long-term benefits.'

She added that unit labelling was a no-brainer' in terms of doing something positive, and she also quoted the results of

a MORI poll that showed 80% of those surveyed welcomed labelling advice on drinks packaging.

Pete Brown concluded: We're obsessed with drunkenness in this country. We drink for a reason. When we have a couple of drinks, we feel better than we did before. It's nothing to

be ashamed of. Anti-social behaviour is not an effect of excessive drinking - it's a dysfunctional response to excessive drinking.'